Human Development Index
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The Human Development Index (HDI) is a composite statistic used to rank countries by level of “human development” and separate developed (high development), developing (middle development), and underdeveloped (low development) countries. The statistic is composed from data on Life Expectancy, Education and per-capita GDP (as an indicator of Standard of living) collected at the national level using the formula given in the Methodology section below.
 Origins of the HDI
The origins of the HDI are to be found in the United Nations Development Programme‘s (UNDP) Human Development Reports (HDRs). These were devised and launched by Pakistani Economist Mahbub ul Haq in 1990 and had the explicit purpose: ‘‘to shift the focus of development economics from national income accounting to people centered policies.’’ . To produce the HDRs, Haq brought together a group of well known development economists including: Paul Streeten, Frances Stewart, Gustav Ranis, Keith Griffin, Sudhir Anand, and Meghnad Desai. But it was Amartya Sen’s work on capabilities and functionings that provided the underlying conceptual framework. Haq was sure that a simple composite measure of human development was needed in order to convince the public, academics, and policy-makers that they can and should evaluate development not only by economic advances but also improvements in human well-being. Sen initially opposed this idea, but he went on to help Haq develop the Human Development Index (HDI). Sen was worried that it was difficult to capture the full complexity of human capabilities in a single index but Haq persuaded him that only a single number would shift the attention of policy-makers from concentration on economic to human well-being.
The HDI has been used since 1990 by the United Nations Development Programme for its annual Human Development Reports.
 Three dimensions in the HDI
The HDI combines three dimensions:
- Life expectancy at birth, as an index of population health and longevity
- Knowledge and education, as measured by the adult literacy rate (with two-thirds weighting) and the combined primary, secondary, and tertiary gross enrollment ratio (with one-third weighting).
- Standard of living, as indicated by the natural logarithm of gross domestic product per capita at purchasing power parity.
The formula defining the HDI is promulgated by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) In general, to transform a raw variable, say x, into a unit-free index between 0 and 1 (which allows different indices to be added together), the following formula is used:
- x-index =
are the lowest and highest values the variable x can attain, respectively.
The Human Development Index (HDI) then represents the uniformly weighted sum with ⅓ contributed by each of the following factor indices:
- Life Expectancy Index =
- Education Index =
- GDP =
 2009 report
The 2009 report was released on October 5, 2009, and covers the period up to 2007. It was titled “Overcoming barriers: Human mobility and development”. The top countries by HDI were grouped in a new category called “Very High Human Development”. The report refers to these countries as “developed countries”. They are:
In this report, five countries were promoted from the “medium” category to the “high development” category: Grenada, Peru, Colombia, Turkey, and Lebanon. Furthermore Angola, Lesotho, Uganda and Nigeria left the “low” category and are now in the “medium” group.
 Countries not included
The following nations are not ranked in the 2009 Human Development Index, for being non-UN member, unable, or unwilling to provide the necessary data at the time of publication.
 2008 statistical update
A new index was released on December 18, 2008. This so-called “statistical update” covers the period up to 2006 and was published without an accompanying report on human development. The update is relevant due to newly released estimates of purchasing power parities (PPP), implying substantial adjustments for many countries, resulting in changes in HDI values and, in many cases, HDI ranks.